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Time to change your tune in today's job market

Sting, of the famous British rock band The Police, sang “I don’t ever want to play the part of a statistic on a government chart,” on their song Invisible Sun. Job seekers everywhere understand all to well that being included in the current unemployment figures is something they want to change.

The statistics reveal that many people in the Susquehanna Valley are out of work and the future remains very unsettled.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reported that the Pennsylvania state unemployment rate for December 2009 was 8.9% compared to the national unemployment rate of 10.0% for the same month. The unemployment rate for the Harrisburg-Carlisle area was 7.4% in November 2009; 7.3% for Lancaster; and 8.3% for the York-Hanover market.

The loss of a job is a traumatic event and the pain is more acute in this terrible economic climate as job seekers are finding it more difficult to re-enter the workforce. Dwelling on these figures, however, and focusing on the negativity associated with them is not a place where the job hunter wants to stay too long.

Candidates today have to redefine themselves by focusing on what really makes them tick. “Excellent communication skills, managerial ability, and highly organized” are all great attributes to sell. But the candidate has to go much further in identifying him/herself in the extremely competitive market with more limited opportunities.

“Have a game plan that includes specific examples demonstrating your problem solving skills,” says Tom Showalter, director of the Career Link’s Job Club program in Lancaster (

This column will not shy away from the reality of what you, the job seeker is going through. It will, however, offer hope and courage to carry on despite the frustration, depression and demoralizing feelings associated with job loss and constant rejection.

If anything, take away from this column that you are not alone. Someone, somewhere close to you (maybe your next door neighbor, the person next to you in church, the man standing in line at the deli counter) is experiencing what you’re going through.

The job search process need not be one of isolation. Please share your thoughts and feelings – both positive and negative – about your experiences in regaining a foothold in the job market. We can all help each other to get through these difficult times.

If you’re stuck thinking about being included on government unemployment charts, it’s time to start humming to a different tune.

We look forward to hearing from you.


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